Sunday 29 March 2009

Engagement vs satisfaction (activity and output)


As I noted in my last post, engagement is often defined as something like 'say, stay and strive'.  So a lot of people see the difference between this and satisfaction as:

  • Being more complicated - ie not being a simple, reasonably tangible thing like satisfaction, but a mix of factors
  • Being a build upon satisfaction, being more about commitment and the display of discretionary behaviours
  • Also referring to the propensity to stay in the organisation.


I think all these differences are valid and relevant.  However, they're not the main difference.

The main difference is that satisfaction refers to what the organisation is doing to a person - its HR and management processes, and how each particular line manager supports the individual.  Satisfaction is about being satisfied WITH something.  Satisfaction questions in an employee survey may give some information about the person, but in the main, they relate to the THINGS they're satisfied or dissatisfied with.

Engagement on the other hand is about the person - about THEM, about their state - which as a result of the things they are satisfied or dissatisfied with.  Engagement questions in an employee survey relate to the person themselves - their advocacy, liklihood to remain employed etc.

In the HCM value chain, satisfaction is an objective / measure for activity, engagement is an objective / measure for output, for human capital.


HCM value chain





  • Consulting - Research - Speaking  - Training -  Writing
  • Strategy  -  Talent  -  Engagement  -  Change and OD
  • Contact  me to  create more  value for  your business
  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


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